One of the essential aspects of an internationally sprawled supply chain is the connection between the different companies, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers that form the links in facilitating an unfinished materials journey towards becoming a finished consumable that is finally sold to the consumers. The connection between these supply chain links has been a key area that modern technology can augment to enable a smoother and more efficient transfer of goods through its multiple stages in the value chain. In this article, we have discussed some of the noticeable, modern technologies that holds the ability to reshape the entire global supply chain.

  • 5G Technology and the Internet of Things: 5G technology is the new generation of wireless technology that exponentially surges the speed of downloading and uploading content on the internet. With 5G technology, devices connected with each other can immediately respond in almost real-time. This technology is very critical for operating Internet of Things (IoT) that is a collection of interconnected physical devices that can record, monitor, report on, and exchange data in real-time. With 5G technology, the exchange of information occurs much more quickly. Within the sphere of the global supply chain, an IoT device fitted with 5G technology can for instance regulate the storage conditions in a warehouse. For instance, the shipping industry has started deploying 5G driven IoT, wherein these devices can be operated remotely by operators to modify the temperature of the ship-rooms carrying cargo. Likewise, there are IoT devices that relay the movement of the ship and instantly communicate the location of the ship along with alerts on possible storms or other setbacks in real time.
  • Blockchain: This form of new technology has overtaken the news headlines and became more popular with the introduction of cryptocurrencies that are mined on decentralized blockchains. In other words, blockchain is a type of decentralized ledger that records a variety of transactions under unique hash-numbers and can be used in the supply chain to transparently trace the movement of products. As an illustration, after cotton has been cultivated in India, farmers selling it to clothing factory owners in Bangladesh can have the exchange recorded in a common blockchain. As the production and distribution of the final piece of clothing progresses, each phase can be recorded to help trace its journey. This has become a key tool in ensuring if sustainable supply chain sources are being used by companies.
  • Artificial Intelligence: While still a modern technology, artificial intelligence or AI has been around for a while now. AI has the ability to perceive things from the lenses of a human being and make smart decisions – robots are a common output that are equipped with AI technology. The global supply chain has billions of data flowing through its different components, and AI devices can use special algorithms to sort this data and arrange them in understandable formats to aid decision making. Similarly, AI driven robots have become common in Amazon warehouses, wherein the robots move heavy objects around, and monitor stock levels and place orders upon reaching a certain buffer level. This can enable higher efficiency and reduce the physical labor load on humans.
  • Autonomous Trucks: Although in the nascent stages of development, autonomous trucks are self-driving vehicles that can run without the need for a driver. Basically, the trucks will be on auto-pilot mode. That said, this development can eliminate the need for truck drivers, causing mass layoffs. Moreover, operating such trucks can be dangerous since the AI driving the car may not be aware of handling certain driving situations that humans can handle. Accidents can be fatal, and losses can be incurred.

Modern technology has no limits, and with fresh rounds of funding being injected into research and development, more intriguing technology is likely to be devised – and some or many of it might help further the connectivity and efficiency of the global supply chain operations.

Written By : Brenda Martin